tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg January 24, 2015 8:00pm-9:01pm EST
manhattan and the fourth person to hold the post in 75 years. in a recent profile, chuck wrote, "in some ways it may be easier to be the district attorney in manhattan where new yorkers are not so inclined to do terrible things to each other." the manhattan office handles more cases than the department of justice. he has voiced his concerns are about cyber security and other issues. i am pleased to have them at this table. it is great to have you here. as you know and we would talk about, i knew your father well and what an honor to know him. >> a lovely man. >> and they say a good lawyer. [laughter] >> that's was when the secrets to his success that -- i think people trusted his work which was, you have to have that to be a good lawyer. -- trusted his word.
and was able to work well with others because they trusted he would do what he did. >> that they didn't doubt he was a man of integrity. he resigned as secretary of day and gave up the power because he disagreed and did after the attack against iran to release the hostages. did he talk about that at home? >> it was a difficult period. i do not think i knew that the raid was going to take place. i was in law school. i was not living there. it was a tense time. i think i remember my father feeling awful physically, maybe a case of gout. then the raid happens. it failed. he then disclosed that he told the president i do not disagree but if you do it, you are not listening to me.
but i will respect the outcome. he was, i think, probably relieved at once since, but it hurts. hurt that his word or counsel as secretary of state was not capturing the president's ear to the point where the president was following his advice. it was a tough period, but he moved on. >> it is an interesting case study isn't it? sometimes he would listen to the secretary of state, sometimes to the cia director and sometimes secretary of defense and sometimes the white house counsel. to reside because he didn't listen to you -- >> i think it was a factor. on an issue important to my father. but you are right, in my office i listen to a lot of people. >> and hope they do not go away. you were resistant to becoming a lawyer.
>> i had a very well-known lawyer father. and i think there was a sense of rebellion in every child whose parent is well known in the profession to say i am going to do something else. >> what did you think that would be? >> i didn't know. i went and worked in west africa after college, working for an oil ship transportation company. i was not the best in business but i had a hell of a time. i traveled over west africa and came back and decided to go to law school. >> why did you decide to do that? >> there was a tidal pull. i respected my father. it had clearly been a very is fine, emotionally and intellectually life for him. i shared some characteristics of his.
i did it, and i was glad i did it, and i was fortunate enough when i got out -- and he gave me a job. >> you went to seattle. >> i worked for bob. i worked for him for six years. my wife and i, peggy, felt it was time to go to be on our own. she was one of nine kids. her father was one of 15. i had a lawyer family that was ever-present. i think we had it is and we should go somewhere, raise our family, and have an adventure. it was not the dynamic city. in the 16 years i lived there, seattle changed as much as any
american city. with microsoft and amazon and costco, incredibly dynamic. >> you went from being a prosecutor to a defense attorney. you became a very, very highly regarded defense attorney. lots of prosecutors do that. do you become a prosecutor because you know it will equip you well? most people do not remain prosecutors. >> some do, i didn't. i did not have a desire going to law school to be a defense attorney. i finished my stand at the da office and i loved criminal law. it took some time. being a defense lawyer is one of the most satisfying the most important roles lawyers can play because you have in your hands the future of a man or woman or a company. it may mean the company's survival or liberty of the man or woman.
typically, the resources you can bring to bear is not as great as the government. it is intimate. when you are sitting with someone trying to get ready for something you have to do in court, or to understand a witness and what they are saying and how they feel, it is personal. it is like you and me. you do not have the luxury of 4 or 5 detectives doing things. it is hands-on, very satisfying. but between the two, i think being the manhattan da, it is an extraordinary job. >> you come back to new york. my family is here, etc.
and you had zero political experience, zero. >> when i was six years old, i handed out flyers for lbj. >> ok, practically no political experience. you decide you are going to run for a very important political office. does that take... what? >> i always felt when i was a young assistant da as i bet everyone in my office does, if i could be the manhattan district attorney, that would be the best legal job in the world. >> why is that? it is an office on like any other in the country. >> we are in manhattan. it means we are dealing with some the most complicated financial and international cases. as well as serious violent crimes and cybercrime.
there are more areas of prosecution in my office than anywhere else. >> more powerful than the attorney general of new york? >> no, not a question of power but do you like the substance of the work? i love the prosecution. the job of prosecutor, even though it sounds trite, is at the end of the day, not to fight dirty and win but to do what is right. that is what you are told when you come. that's what i believe the bureau chiefs instill in lawyers literally every week. there are not too many jobs in america where you go to work and what the boss tells you to do is do what you think is right. obviously you are guided, but it's a powerful mission. it is very satisfying emotionally and intellectually
interesting. >> as people know, you are prosecutorial discretion. >> our ability to decide what to charge. if charged, how to plea bargain. >> perhaps the person did it and we do not have the evidence to go forward. >> or you feel that even that this person did it there are , mitigating factors that cause you to rethink the severity of the charges or whether to charge at all. that is a lot of power given to young lawyers. that is why it is so maturing, these lawyers are not doing what the lawyers at the big firms are doing. they are not turning out to be the best writers, but specialists in people. they are specialists in getting witnesses to talk to you. witnesses do not come to court
because they have a subpoena. my witnesses came to court because i was calling them up and trying to make sure that they knew i care. it is a very satisfying way to spend your time as a lawyer. >> let me put it into context. you were reelected. there was a time during the midst of your first term and that people said there is no way he will be reelected. fair enough? >> a few. >> you never doubted? >> to run for the da's office, i ♪ didn't know if i could win. i felt i was the best person to do it. and i think i ran a good campaign with ideas and substance. i think that is why i won.
there are always going to be very difficult cases in one's tenure. general holder has had his fair share. i am not comparing myself to general holder but we have the intensity of media review and scrutiny as great as any other office. there were a series of cases that bob and i did were tried in my term that were acquittals. and then strauss-kahn was arrested, indicted. >> when did you first know he was arrested? >> within an hour or so. it was not -- >> we have taken him off a plane and taken him in. he is in prison. or he is in custody. >> there were folks who were very critical.
and i come to understand that is their job and that is ok. i really felt very comfortable in my first term. win or lose, running again, i felt what the office was doing in terms of modernizing the office, and doing powerful prosecutions including sex crimes, very cutting edge method of going after gangs and guns. i felt we are doing well. but there are those cases that captivate and run off. this was one of them. >> strauss-kahn captivated and was tabloid heaven. the so-called -- the french got upset about this. because they thought the press was convicting him before hand and all in front of cameras. were they right?
>> the da's association, of which i was president right in the middle of that, we issued a motion that we do not believe that what we called perp walks were appropriate and i do not think they are. there are others who disagree. >> rudy giuliani probably among them. [laughter] >> i do not think they are necessary and they can be demeaning. and ultimately, what you want in the courts is to have everybody who touches the system feel that it is respectful, even if it is tough. if you have some tawdry photographs, or cheap shots, that can erode the public's perception of whatever the word is -- and the importance of the
solemnity of the institution. >> what would you do differently if anything? >> i might have conducted a preliminary hearing. >> which is? i didn't. in new york state and the reason i did not, new york state has a unique set of laws that relate to what happens when you are arrested in our jail. in a nutshell, if it is a felony, you either have the case indicted, grand jury hears it within five or six days depending on whether the weekend is included or not. if you have not got the indictment before that time, the defendant is free. he is still charged, but free on bail. unless they agree to extend there's a tight timetable in which to make judgments. that was certainly a whole host of questions and issues about
the extent of his wealth whether or not the complaining witness was reached out to in an effort -- i am not saying that dominique strauss-kahn didn't do it but the rumor mill was full. if you hold a preliminary hearing and that time and the judge determines there is probable cause, the defendant can still be in jail and the next date is kicked over 30 days or 45 days. the reason we did not is because, number one, we did not know that much about strauss-kahn's individual wealth and reach. and there was real concern about putting the complainant on the witness stand in a circus -- a real concern about putting the complainant on the witness stand in a circus. i think -- i really think handling this case, as
controversial as it was, as prosecutors, making the right judgments when we found information that could only come to light through the passage of time. we did not stop investigating. we kept on working and we found there was ultimately evidence which we turned over to the judge which caused a sensation. >> was it immediately turned over? >> to the defense and the judge. but did i like getting whomped for doing it? no. it was important to me that we had done a very thorough investigation before we issued any decision. we had to follow a process and make sure we investigated everything to understand what was going on and happened.
the case was sort of a teaching moment for me and our systems and others is, you arrest people on probable cause. that makes sense. you cannot typically have a trial before you arrest someone if somebody says that man just took my wallet. before you take the case to trial, in my opinion, you have a burden at trial, 12 jurors and you have to convince them all beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual is guilty. during the course, we as prosecutors do not have an abiding faith beyond a reasonable doubt in knowing what happened then it is our obligation to not go forward. notwithstanding the anger and upset it can cause. >> and is that what happened here? and we moved a lengthy memo randum.
>> you do not think you knew what happened in the room? >> not without a reasonable doubt. there was sexual contact, but whether it was forcible, forcibly compelled sexual contact, we looked at a lot of evidence were able to conclude that it happened. >> here is an interesting story. during this time, he resigned. suppose it was as he said, was it a terrible injustice to him? >> i think the way -- i do not believe it was a terrible injustice to him. i believe with all respect to him and his ex-wife the reason we were dealing with this was
because of things he put into play. we would not have had dealt with any of it if there had not been some sort of sexual -- so no. as other information came spilling out over the course of the next six months about matters outside of the investigation related to him, i felt even less that we had treated him poorly. [laughter] >> people discover a lot. as you know, when he went back to france. were you worried he might flee? >> there was no treaty or extradition between ourselves and france. i do not think we have to this day. certainly for this kind of charge -- >> he could've gone and never came back. >> at the end of the day, it took time to sort through and i
think we got it right. >> my last question about that -- >> turning it around, was it a great injustice to her if things happened as she said but did not go forward because of other aspects of her life experience? >> i think certainly we do not intend any disservice to her. it is fair to say that the attorneys in our office, when they first met her, were absolutely convinced in her truthfulness. >> these are smart people who know what witnesses are like and they believed her after the beginning. >> a number of other facts came out and i will not criticize her for them. but they were substantial and substantial enough for us to believe her credibility in testifying as a complainant in this case was so compromised we ourselves did not know exactly what happened. >> let me make this larger.
because of your experience and you make decisions that caused this question to be raised, we now have dna evidence and a lot more and it has released a lot of people from prison. you are very much in favor of it i believe. >> i am. the percentage of people you think are convicted, is it 5%? >> i would not venture a guess i would say less than that. >> juries and judges get it right at least -- >> there is no study that can scientifically answer that. if you ask a lawyer that is critical on the criminal justice system, that lawyer will say 50% of the cases that are tried are unjust. my own experience as a prosecutor, defense lawyer
prosecutor again, and civil litigant is i do think the prosecutors tried to and get it right the overwhelming majority of times. when i ran for office and was in formed by being a defense lawyer, i felt it was important being a national leader on this issue of conviction integrity. there is nothing more upsetting to a criminal lawyer than understanding decisions that have been made by you or others in your field were wrong and resulted in a conviction of innocent people. we all -- a movement appropriately shocked the legal system. it started with the dna. and offices large as ours being one of the major prosecutor offices of the world, i felt we needed to be transparent about
how we were not going to just review cases and have cases where there were convictions and allegations of innocence. but teaching. most important to me is identifying practices and teaching the young lawyers on the front end what to watch out for in those kinds of cases where statistics have shown error in judgment was most likely made. cases involving confidential informants. identification procedure and maintenance of evidence. we have spent a lot of time in our integrity conviction unit working on the front end and i believe there was some resistance and skepticism and upset when i started this unit in our office. >> for those of us, i am a lawyer but i do not practice. what seems to be the most
flagrant when people have evidence they know may contribute to innocence. and to win for careerism withhold it. >> there is a very little that is worse than that in our business. >> let me move to the impact of technology as you might imagine, on the positive side, you have now access to data. you have access to data that gives you so many more facts as your command. positive side of that, you ought to be the make more informed decisions and help police work in terms of three -- police work in terms of reaching the right decision. explain to me more how it makes your life easier today.
when we look at the phenomenon of how the computer is given us so much more than we ever imagined. >> it is a two edged sword. i will start by saying the biggest change between practicing criminal law in decades past is the impact of the internet because every case, charlie, that we have with a homicide, rape, much of the evidence is going to come from handheld mobile devices e-mail , facebook postings photographs. every case is infused with this kind of evidence. that is, i would say a blessing. our challenge is to be able to have assistance who can use it and it office that is competent to review these items and make sure we are getting the right evidence and to not only
convict the guilty but exonerate the innocent. on the flipside, the internet is obviously very dark. one third of our only cases are now cybercrime. it is a tsunami. >> explain more. >> those are cases that relate to identity theft. it has changed our practice significantly. the unfortunate reality is that people, not just here but abroad have morphed from being criminals in one endeavor to whether they are selling drugs or snatching chains on 42nd street and they are into identity theft. it is safer, cheaper.
and do you have a very intelligent group of criminal players who are in eastern europe, russian speaking, who have been instrumental in buying and spying and selling the identities stolen for major stores and banks. it is an international problem. >> why russia? >> i think it is technical. it is an international business. not just the way i described it but international. one of the things i have come to appreciate, because it is international, our office needed to deal with it. what other major cities should we be in partnership with trying to identify what attacks cyberattacks are occurring on our residents that are similar to those occurring in theirs? is this person in eastern europe hitting both of us?
we worked closely with the london city police. and we have actually brought down one case in the past several months which involved new york actors in english actors. this is the way of the future. it is international and everywhere. i am not trying to be dramatic. it is just we have not won the war on cybercrime. >> then there is this, google and apple. yes. they can now encrypt. and they do not even know how to access to the information. >> what apple and google said in their most recent upgrades is that they no longer have a key. we used to send them phones and they would take their key, on encrypt, and send it back to us and we could do it. they no longer have that key and
market their phones. you remember them saying that we cannot assist law enforcement. did it come out of the snowden business? >> i am sure it did out of concern of the nsa. to diminish the importance of right to privacy and i do not want the nsa looking at my e-mails, but where i strongly disagree with apple and google is that is not what we are talking about. not the da's office willy-nilly trying to go through your e-mail. we have to get a warrant from a judge. we need probable cause that there is likely to be information on this crime or that crime. >> a judge -- before you can request the information from google or facebook or apple, you have to have a judge say it is
appropriate that they asked for this information. it needs to be relevant to -- >> might be relevant. this is potentially of huge import to the hundreds of thousands or millions of cases. we just had a case that i heard of where it was a series of drug dealers and what to look like a drug deal. one guy was videotaping it with his iphone and somebody made a noise and he moves the phone until the doorway and a guy with a gun shoots the iphone holder dead. you see the iphone drop to the ground. that homicide would not have been capable of being made if we did get it on the iphone. under the new operating system we will not be able to get it. >> because the only owner that has the key is the dead man. did apple or google show any receptivity, where did they simply say it is privacy?
>> i acknowledge the knowledge they are facing international marketplace. they are successfully selling all over the world. i look at it through the lens of a new york city prosecutor and they are looking at it through the business lens. as i have said, to not be able to get into these phones i think it is swinging the pendulum too far because the victims are actually going to be apple and google's own customers who are victims of crime. they will not be able to give lawyers access to the phones that may relate to how they got ripped off. >> let's transfer this not to apple and google what facebook. and access to someone's facebook, i assume you can get
unless they take it down. are there issues here? >> there are issues. we again use a search warrant. there is one case in litigation and i will not comment on the pluses or minuses. there was a 99 page affidavit submitted by our office seeking authorization from the court to subpoena and search the facebook files for several hundred people. we litigated against twitter separately. >> right. but i guess, this whole conversation speaks to the fact that technology is changing. how we gather -- >> and you need new rules? >> you may need new rules and they may need to be updated. the new evidence will be on twitter and facebook. it is a new world and my
commitment is that our office is going to be capable and up to the challenge and i think we are. >> marijuana, and how much marijuana you might have had and when it should be prosecuted. the brooklyn da, who you met since hearing the strauss-kahn case. does he have the same position you do? >> he does. >> same position on marijuana? has he gone further and say we will not prosecute? >> what -- one of the reasons i did not adopt the position which was he was the first to say i am not going to prosecute these cases. >> for the possession of so much marijuana? >> i have, for years, taken the
position we should decriminalize. the state had not done it. i felt my job was to get the police department to get on board so there will be a five-county solution to the problem. ultimately, those five counties came together and we are no longer prosecuting these low-level possession cases. that is because mr. bratton met with us and we finally figured that out and that is not a problem. i do not think we need small amounts of marijuana as a crime. and i think the legislation -- >> reflected in the legal system as well. are gangs a big deal in new york? i mean organized crime. >> not use gangs. in l.a., for example.
>> we do have that. i started 2 things. a violent criminal enterprise team and will focus on gangs and guns and violence. and we developed a crime strategies unit. which is essentially the idea is to have our investigators informed by intelligence in our office and how that intelligence shared with the assistants building the case. we have to make sure it is readable and pushed out to the right folks. we are taken 17 gangs down in manhattan in the past 4 years. >> what does that mean to take them down? >> that means indict and arrest. and the result has been positive, which is to say the homicide rate, shooting victim
rate in manhattan has decreased more than the other counties. it is because we are doing this proactive work. that kind of gang typically is between 14 and 19 years old. >> does the level of crime in a community have anything to do with the da's office? >> i think it can. you have to be careful saying you are eliminating crime. when it comes back, you own that too. >> is it all the police, or is it the prosecutors -- >> it is all three. when all three are working together, that's when you will see the greatest reduction in a and greatest enhancement of security. our office is no longer a defensive office. we are now just as investigating
affirmatively and we are gathering intelligence, sharing intelligence. we are not waiting for police officers to bring us cases which we would then manage. >> organized crime. >> it is not what it was. there is a organized crime but as we see it, relegated right now to drugs, sale of prescription drugs, illegal sales. numbers, off-track betting. nickel and dime stuff compared to the era of homicides. >> the whole thing in terms of crime lords. >> i am sure there are organized criminals doing more damaging stuff then i described but we do not see it in the way we did in the 1980's. how has>> how has the drug world
changed in terms of the nature of the drug trafficking, in terms of who is involved, what products are most popular? >> two trends are i would focus on. excuse me. one is prescription drugs. the sale of prescription drugs codeine, xanax, that have become a huge market. that is of real concern to communities all over the country and certainly in new york. that's spikes and has continued to be high. heroin has made a comeback in new york city probably because it is cheap and it got cheap because people were buying prescription drugs and heroin was available in quantities. >> how about crack cocaine? >> as an ongoing problem, it is no longer there. >> why is that?
>> hopefully because people understood it is a killer. it is a killer. that era in the 1980's when crack hit and i was in the office, it really was amazing. it is almost as if a virus hit new york. people were getting infected with this virus which was addiction to crack cocaine. incredibly violent behavior was popping up all over the city. it was pretty scary. >> do you have the tools in terms of resources, financial support, the kinds of things you think give you the tools to do what the people elect you expect? >> i do. during the bloomberg years, mike was a great mayor and partner with us.
but our tax dollars were cut and our budget was cut each year for several years. ultimately, we have been able to restore that budget line to where we think it should be, the right base. that in combination with other forfeitures that we obtain from cases, i feel we are -- >> that is interesting. if i had not read about you, it may have slipped by me too. if you sue a financial institution and they pay a fine, you have discretion as to how that line is spent >> it depends. it is more complicated, but to summarize, depending upon the nature of the partners and the nature of the forfeiture, a certain percentage of the dollars come into our office. and we can spend those dollars under very strict guidelines
which we have to submit a spending plan to the federal government and they approve it or they don't. and a statute not as defined but we need to invest those dollars into law enforcement issues as well. frankly, we are doing great stuff with it. we have committed to get $35 million to help end the backlog of untested rape kits. that was a tragedy. the testing of those rape kits like oklahoma and california and they will reveal new york defendants. >> is the level of domestic violence up or down? >> it is up slightly. if you were to ask me what is your focus, where do you have to focus i would say domestic homegrown violent extremists. >> terrorism? >> terrorism and terrorism finance.
>> what does that mean? >> that means money that is moved to fund terrorism activities here or there. >> to fund somebody there or whatever. >> and domestic violence. domestic violence is a very significant problem. it is one of the areas where i feel we have the most work to do. we opened a family justice center in manhattan. it is a place where a victim of domestic violence can in one place get both criminal, talk with the prosecutor and a cop. and get a city services like childcare, a place to live and emergency funding. it merges those two parts of that person's life where they are leaving the home in danger of the woman typically and has two or three kids and she does not know where she's is going to sleep that night.
that was a big help we believe to the service victims of domestic violence. but we have a long way to go. >> it is clear and the more attention you get it is more prevalent. >> it is prevalent in every income group, every community. it is shockingly pervasive. >> the most satisfying aspect of your job is the belief you are representing the community. and putting due process and justice and preventing crimes. >> we have spent a lot of time and money on crime prevention strategies. we now have 10 centers in manhattan. four boys and girls, 12 and 18
saturday night called saturday night lights. it is one of those. we hired professional trainers. we have basketball, volleyball and soccer and lacrosse. >> the idea is to provide a place for the community to be. >> and educational counseling that is crime-fighting. today, the da's job is not just what you do in a courtroom but it is my job to encourage my team to develop every strategy that will drive crime down long-term. some of that maybe hardcharging gang cases. some of that may be reaching out to immigrant communities to tell the what to watch out for so they do not under ripped off -- by someone praying on them because they are from the same country. >> what is the fastest rising thing? you mentioned cybercrime is 1/3. what is the next largest
category? >> i'm not sure i can say. some type of larceny, grand larceny. there's been an explosion of thefts of ipads and iphones. manhattan has a huge percentage of those citywide cases. there is a lot of money and people with the devices. >> i should know as a graduate of law school. i should know this but i do not. crime is committed a decision is made, and there is probable cause to indict, arrest first. and then -- >> cop comes down. interviewed i the assistant. determines was we have and do not have. we make an application to determine if the defendant defendant should have bail or
not. but the assistant goes to the court and asked for bail. if that person is held in, in x days we have to indict. if we do not, they are out of jail. we have six months to try most felony cases. there are extensions -- to start the trial. roughly speaking. there are exclusions for this and that. but it is a fairly fast moving practice. what i love when i was doing this and what i got used to is the arraignment part where there are 150 cases on the calendar. it is a little bit like you are juggling and you are spinning plates a you are doing all of that at once and keep your head about you and be careful and thoughtful and fair. people who do that and get adjusted they find it , fascinating.
>> a teaching moment for me and the audience because it has come up. when does a grand jury come into play? >> in order to charge someone and prosecute them to trial for a felony in new york, you are have to present the case to a grand jury and the grand jury has a true bill. vote to indict for robbery or whatever it is. the grand jury may decide not to indict you in which case they vote a no true bill. the case ends. that is when you need to go to a grand jury and present evidence to 23 jurors. >> only evidence presented by the prosecutor? >> grand juries can ask for witnesses to be called and sometimes they do. the defendant may testify with his lawyer or her lawyer. >> at his own choice? >> at their own choice. they have to waive privilege.
but the grand jury process in new york is more robust than the federal system. in most instances, we have to do witnesses on live not hearsay. if there is sex crime or complicated fraud, we have to find the people to put them in the grand jury, get the evidence in. the grand jurors eyeball the witnesses. and they ask questions. they either indict or do not indict. 12 out of 23. probable cause is a standard of 12 out of 23. ♪ only for felonies. >> you cannot indict without a grand jury? >> you can indict misdemeanors which we do from time to time. we do that rarely because we think they are sufficiently complex that we want to take it up to the supreme court where we believe the resources. >> you believe it works well?
>> i believe it works well. i am aware, as we all are, of the events of the past several months. i am open to sitting with the governor and others and talking if there ways we can make more transparent the decisions of the grand jury's and police involved? >> i am not asking questions because the public is misinformed. frank hogan served for how long? >> 32. >> you were elected when? >> in 2009 and started in 2010. >> how old would you be? how old would you be in 2040?
>> i will be old. [laughter] bob was one-of-a-kind. he was a mentor to so many of us. what i think, the wonderful thing about our office when i took over, a phenomenal office. i had to do things to change as anybody does but my job is simple. i inherited a phenomenal office and my job before i leave is to lift the bar a little higher. >> thank you for coming. cyrus vance, jr., manhattan district attorney. a kind of premiere on law-enforcement in this great city. thank you for joining us. see you next time. ♪
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